This was another of those collaborations between the IWFS and AsiaEuro whereby the lovely Michelle invites us to a private event with the winemaker or a representative and we get to sample the good stuff and hopefully get a nice discount on any purchases. In the early stages of the dinner, sample appeared to be the operative word, with a half glass of each of the vertical wines being carefully poured from the bottle into the assembled glasses. But it did liven up once the dessert had been consumed and pouring got a touch more liberal. No complaints at the end of the evening.
The notice to members shared that Castello Banfi owns an historic 45 hectare estate in Strevi, Piedmont named Banfi Piemonte. Its vineyards are located between the towns of Novi Ligure and Acqui Terme, in an area passionately dedicated to producing the renowned traditional wines of Piedmont. The winery, established in Strevi in 1860, was purchased by Banfi in the late 1970s to complete its Piedmont estate. The Banfi Piemonte portfolio boasts a wide range of products which includes unique sparkling wines, whites, and reds, all of them bearing the prestigious appellations of Piedmont. And that on the night we would experience a vertical tasting of Brunello di Montalcino vintages across 2009 to 2012. Yum.
Downside was that there would only be 40 seats available due to the small size of the restaurant. And all 40 got snapped up by the members within eighteen hours. It is frustrating when so many want to come yet the trend is increasingly for restaurants to only accept diminishing numbers of patrons. Apparently Chef was insistent in not increasing beyond forty - his place has a reputation and stressing the kitchen will necessarily impact. Smart man.
The website says that the Cicchetti (pronounced chee-keh-tee) di Zenzero focuses on "Andar a Cicchetti" which essentially translates to the Venetian version of Tapas - small savoury bites shared across a table with friends and family. Located on Jalan Puncak, which is the road that leads up to the KL Tower, it is the sister restaurant to the more traditional Italian cuisine at Zenzero up and across the road and which has made a good name amongst the KL foodies and bloggers, gaining favourable reports across the board (see https://www.theyumlist.net/2017/11/cicchetti-di-zenzero.html)
|The Cicchetti Bar|
Lenglui and I and friend Kit were getting a ride for the night from friends who most kindly share their driver to both pick us up and deliver us all back home, meaning we can all have a good skinful. The drive to the place was surprisingly smooth and clear after the early evening rains with the result that we arrived way before the scheduled time for the popping of corks. Quite a number had already arrived, mostly through fear of massive jams coming into KL town and all professed equal surprise at the ease of the traffic. Never can tell. There was one blip where Waze took us up the wrong side street and this precipitated quite a large discussion as to what to do. Eventually the driver turned back and re-entered the main Jalan P Ramlee road and got us straight to the restaurant. Easy when you have researched the thing beforehand.
Early research also indicated a distinct lack of parking, with advice to the effect of park on the road outside or in the Weld carpark across the road. Again, having a driver negates all this and we successfully alighted at the place.
|Some of the delightful Cicchetti|
The Tener fizz (a NV blend of Chard and SB grapes) was nicely fruity and light and made for a good partner with the nibbles. Though I did note that some of the bibbers stopped after two flutes. Presumably saving space for the reds. I also stopped but then someone at the bar handed me a fresh one. I must have looked thirsty.
|Waiting for the off...|
|Banfi boy Luca explaining the wines|
The wine felt light yet firm and stood up well to the food. The notes speak of "intense fruit forward bouquet of exotic fruit and spices... crisp with well balanced acidity and clean finish." I got apricot and banana which disappeared on contact with food and gave way to a clean gunk cutting mouth and indeed a fresh finish.
As soon as the white had been swilled, the gannet like staff swiftly pinched the empty glasses off the table whilst we were not looking and brought out the first two reds to pacify the likes of me who like to keep the glass on the table to see how the wine progresses through the evening. Lenglui is presently off the whites so I inherited her pretty much full glass of the Vermentino.
Which was quite fortuitous as it went extremely and surprisingly well with the Tagliatelle - something about the seven egg yolks and the salt in the cheese and ragu popped the cork delightfully. Very versatile wine. The tagliatelle was very good - firm bite and chew and the earthy mushroom ragout had taste and verve - good dish and pair.
Wish the same could be said for the pairings of the two Brunellos (should the plural be Brunelli?) on show. The 2012 was young and frisky whilst the 2011 was earthy and a bit farmyard on the nose. Texture wise, the 2012 was quite light whilst the 2011 was firm and tending to tannic. As an exercise in vintage contrasts the combo was instructive. Whether they were long term in the bottle (my usual litmus test), on this showing I would not have said so.
|Lot of glasses, eh?|
Though the Moss seemed to have fortune on his side. As I was approaching him to clink a glass, one of the attendees swept across the floor with a full glass and deposited the thing in front of him. I was unable to contain my reaction of "bastard..." as he gleefully supped on the thing. Some guys have all the luck, eh?
|Burratina with Trio of Pesto|
I opted for the Lamb Shank Ossobucco and was pleasantly surprised at the full taste on the thing. Rich tasty jus, full of vim and grip, and soaked up well by the wonderfully light and chewy polenta. Good dish, would come back for this one. Though hopefully there would be a bit more on the plate next time - three smallish lumps seemed a bit thin for the price being paid. Seemed some of the others did not rate the lamb too highly - there you go...
|Seven Egg Yolk Tagliatelle|
|Lamb Shank Ossobucco|
|Lenglui with AsiaEuro's Michelle|
Pre - Dinner
Selections of Cicchetti at the Bar
Tener Spumante Brut Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc NV
Burratina with Trio of Pesto
Heirloom Tomatoes Salad, Capers, Capers Powder, Basil Oil,
Trio Pesto; Olives, Eggplant & Artichokes (Vegetarian)
La Pettegola Vermentino IGT 2018
7 Egg Yolks Tagliatelle
Mixed Wild Mushroom Ragù & Gorgonzola Cheese
Poggio alle Mura Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2011 & 2012
Lamb Shank Ossobuco
Oven Braised served with Soft Polenta
Free Range Chicken Roulade
Filled with Spinach & Ricotta Cheese, Mashed Pumpkin, Broccoli, Toast Macadamia & Shallots Red Wine Sauce
Poggio alle Mura Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2009 & 2010
Lingue di Gatto con Cioccolato
Biscuit Cones Filled with Dark Chocolate Mousse Orange Sauce & Orange Salad
TENER VINO SPUMANTE BRUT
A special cuvée of Sauvignon Blanc (50%) and Chardonnay, Tener represents the ideal marriage between the vineyard experience of the Montalcino Tuscany estate and the great sparkling wine tradition of Banfi Piemonte cellars in Strevi, Piedmont. Produced in the Méthode Charmat in stainless steel at 16-18° C using yeasts selected for optimal varietal aromas.
Color: pale straw, aboundant mousse, exquisite perlage.
Bouquet: intense and fruity, with light hints of peach.
Taste: dry, harmonious and soft on the palate.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES The special blend is exceptionally made with selected high quality Sauvignon Blanc grapes, very seldom used to produce sparkling wines. Tener brut is round, very aromatic, and deliciously tasty. Ideal as an aperitif as well as a companion to seafood and white meats.
LA PETTEGOLA VERMENTINO · TOSCANA IGT
La Pettegola, the new Banfi’s Vermentino, is crafted selecting the best grapes from the Tuscan coast. It is a wine pleasantly intense, sweet, fresh and light that recalls the perfumes of the Mediterranean scrub and expresses the winning combination of tradition and innovation that, since ever, moves the Banfi experience in the world of Tuscan wine.
Color: pale yellow.
Bouquet: very fruity, with notes of apricot, grapefruit, flowers and spices typical of the Mediterranean scrub.
Taste: full-bodied, with a lively acidity which gives freshness and persistency in the final.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES Most recent white wine born at Banfi, La Pettegola is characterized by its aromatic expression, rich and delicate, as well as for its lively acidity. Ideal for accompanying fish dishes, sea fruit and vegetarian first courses.
POGGIO ALLE MURA
BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG
From dedicated vineyards sloping down from the historic Poggio alle Mura Castle crowning our estate. We chose this patch of land, particularly suited to grow Brunello Sangiovese, to plant the first vineyard resulting from over a decade of research to isolate the optimal selection of clones to produce consistently outstanding Brunello di Montalcino. The vines were planted in 1992. Altitude: 210-220 meters above sea level. Position: Hillside.
SOIL TYPE Yellowish brown color, sandy topsoil, coarse, calcareous; substract of sea sediment originating from the Pliocene age. Abundant rounded rocks.
GRAPE VARIETIES 100% Sangiovese, from a combination of estate selected clones.
PRODUCTION TECHNIQUE The grape harvest is followed by a maceration of 12-13 days. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in In temperature - controlled hybrid stainless steel & wood tanks (27-29°C). About 90% of the wine is aged for 2 years in French oak barriques - manufactured according to Banfi’s specifications - and the remaining 10% in Slavonian oak casks. Before release, the wine is bottle-aged for an additional 12 months.
Colour: mauve red, intense and very deep.
Bouquet: complex, but immediately captivating, fresh and sweet; with essences of plum, cherry, blackberry and raspberry jam combined with hints of chocolate, cigar box, vanilla and licorice.
Taste: muscular and toned, surprising combination of power and softness, with sweet and gentle tannins.
WINEMAKER’S NOTES The first result of more than two decades of experimental research, Poggio alle Mura is a superb example of the best synthesis of terroir, selection and technological innovation. Estate-bottled from the splendid sun drenched vineyard adjacent to the Castello this Brunello encompasses a full body and complexity unique to the genre. Ideal accompaniment to red meat, savory game, and aged cheeses. A wine for meditative contemplation, capable of long-term aging.
Cicchetti di Zenzero, Lot AG1 Amplewest@Menara 6,
No. 6, Jalan Puncak, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
Tel +603 2022 2899